Emerging Professional Identity Development in Freshman Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Women

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Andrea Ofori-Boadu, Ph.D.


Department of Built Environment; Construction Management

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2019


Construction Engineering and Management


Increasing the persistence of talented women into male-dominated architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professions could reduce prevailing workforce shortages and improve diversity. With only 2.8% of AEC professionals being women, identity theorists advocate that professional identity development (PID) could improve persistence. However, little is known about PID processes in undergraduate AEC women. As part of a nationwide National Science Foundation project, the purpose of this presentation is to examine emerging PID in 67 women enrolled in freshman AEC courses in five institutions. Data from open-ended questions in a recruitment survey are analyzed using the NVIVO software. Content and relational inductive open coding are conducted within each participant and across different participants. AEC industry views and industrial experiences reveal four increasing levels of emerging PID: Plain, Passive, Progressive, and Proactive. Although Progressive participants (51%) have some views about the AEC industry, the strongest views are from Proactive participants (28%) who have some AEC experience. Predictors of AEC-PID include love for math and art, inherent abilities, and pre-college association with AEC professionals. With 52% of participants having STEAM interests, an in-vivo code, Middle Ground, demonstrated participants’ quest to combine STEM strengths with visual/performing arts in career decisions. Findings can guide AEC educational policy development that transform the recruitment, retention, and persistence of the next generation of AEC women. In the long term, this could reduce workforce shortages, improve diversity, and foster the innovation of gender friendly AEC products and services.

This document is currently not available here.